Students at Maybell Elementary School invited members of the local VFW (Veterans of Foreign
Wars) on Thursday to join them in "Americanism" a program to honor veterans.
The children opened the ceremony by singing "My Flag." The audience of about 30 adults stood as members of VFW Post 4265, Charlie Watkins, District Commander, and Bill Frye, County
Service Officer, officially Posted the Colors. Then Justin Poole, fourth-grader, led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance and singing of America's national anthem, "Star Spangled Banner."
"In 1921, on a Virginia hillside overlooking the city of Washington, the Arlington National Cemetery burial site for an unknown World War I soldier became the representation of dignity and reverence for America's veterans," Poole said.
Juanita Williams, VFW Americanism Chairman, and Glenda Gore, VFW Poppy Chairman, then unfurled a United States flag and, with assistance from U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Michael Shelleman, explained flag etiquette, what the flag stands for and the symbolism of the stars and colors.
"The flag of our country stands for freedom," Williams said. "It flies so we can be free citizens in this United States. Our veterans fought for and defended this flag through many wars."
Williams explained that the 50 stars on the flag stand for each state in our Union and the red, white and blue colors represent the character of our nation red for courage and sacrifice, blue for loyalty and unity of our citizens, white for liberty and freedom.
"We have many freedoms," she said. "Freedom of the press, freedom to vote, freedom to worship and to speak out publically."
Students Poole and Brooke Behrman assisted World War II veteran Frye and veteran Watkins with folding the flag correctly into a triangle, while Watkins told the audience and students why the flag is folded in such a way.
Each turn symbolizes a different belief, he explained. The first fold, for instance, is a symbol of life. The second is a symbol of our belief in the eternal life. The third fold, into the shape of a triangle, represents where our hearts lie. Other folds in the 13-fold process include tributes to womanhood, to fathers, to our armed forces and to our country.
When the folding was complete, Watkins presented the flag to Pete Bergmann, principal of Maybell School.
"I thank you for this honor," Bergmann said. "It's important for our children to hear what veteran's have done for our country, and it's especially important as we move on into this new century."
The students honored, with certificates, 11 local veterans of various wars who were present in the audience, and then asked for a moment of silence in memory of deceased veterans from the Maybell community, Dale Brannan, Wilson Morris, and Vern Scott.
The Colors were retired, and the program ended with a Veteran's Day salute and a rousing rendition of the song, "America The Beautiful."
The VFW is 100 years old and has been at the forefront of every major veteran's issue since 1900. There are more than 1.9 million members including more than 900,000 from World War II, 400,000 from the Korean War, and more than a half a million who served in Vietnam, the Persian Gulf conflict, and dozens of other smaller overseas operations. In addition, more than 750,000 woman make up the VFW Ladies Auxiliary and give millions of hours of volunteer service annually to VA hospitals and community projects across the nation.
Veterans Day means many things to many people. For veterans of past wars, it is an emotional day filled with memories. For others it is a day to say thank you to those who have fought for the freedoms we have in America.
Veterans Day became a national holiday in 1968, but Nov. 11 has been a commemorative day for veterans for many years. The 1921 ceremony for the Unknown Soldier became a catalyst in America. Similar ceremonies occurred earlier in England and France, where unknown soldiers were buried in each nation's highest place of honor. These memorial gestures all took place on Nov. 11, giving universal recognition to the ending of World War I fighting at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918 the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. The day became known as Armistice Day.
On Saturday, Nov. 11, the local VFW will hold a Veterans Day ceremony at 11 a.m. on the steps of the Moffat County Courthouse. The public is invited to attend.